SaaS Business Intelligence Best Practices You Need to Implement

As of 2022, more than half of software companies (52%) and half of finance companies have started using business intelligence tools. Still, 74% of employees feel overwhelmed while working with data. 

When the purpose of BI is to make data understandable, why is this the case?

Business intelligence and BI tools are indeed crucial for companies, but you can’t fully benefit from them unless you’ve understood the concept of BI and BI tools’ capabilities. So, if you’re a part of the 74%, you may not know the best practices you need to implement to make the most out of BI. 

Keep reading to learn more about these practices and how to turn your data into decisions that will improve revenue and retention.

What is SaaS Business Intelligence?

The best way to understand a concept is by starting with definitions. 

Business Intelligence is a term that comprises various analytical and strategical processes such as data mining, statistical analysis, benchmarking, and visualization. These processes unify data, and make it digestible and understandable. They also help companies assess their performance via KPIs and benchmarking.

None of these analytical processes is done manually, of course. Companies utilize BI tools, which use data to create dashboards and visuals, calculate KPIs, and provide insight into historical data.  

Desktop computer shows various types of data reports and visuals.

There are two types of BI tools: in-house BI, which is developed by a company’s tech team, and SaaS BI, which is hosted in the cloud and is developed by the software’s product team. 

In-house BI requires your IT team to integrate data from different sources (such as your CRM, marketing platform, and ERP.) The IT team will then build the tool from scratch based on your company’s needs. Your teams are also responsible for the installation and maintenance.

SaaS BI tools, on the other hand, come ready to be used. The BI product’s tech team does the maintenance and upgrades, and you don’t have to worry about tedious processes such as integrating your data sources, adding new integrations, etc.

That said, while using SaaS BI, you have to trust a third party with your data. If the tool is GDPR compliant and has a solid privacy policy, you don’t have to worry too much about this aspect.

Computer uploading documents to the cloud, which causes the document to show up on other devices.

There’s no one right option when choosing between in-house and SaaS BI, but you can’t continue without using one since BI is indispensable to SaaS data analytics.

Why is Business Intelligence Important for SaaS Companies?

When the importance of BI is this high, chances are your competition has already started using a BI tool. But keeping up with the competition isn’t the only reason BI is critical. Below are three benefits that make investing in business intelligence crucial for companies. 

1. Helps Businesses Understand Customer data

Customers interact with your brand on social media, your website, sales pages, free trials… the list goes on. With each interaction comes new behavioral data

Your customer clicks an ad, and their click is recorded as data. They cancel their subscription, and you get data. You ask them for feedback or collect demographic information, and that’s more data for you. 

It’s safe to say there’s never a shortage of customer data. In fact, the problem isn’t the lack of information but the surplus: when this much data is coming from disparate sources, it’s hard for you to draw connections. For instance, it’s hard to look at ad engagement on your Google Ads page, keep the trend in mind, and find its connection to the numbers on your CRM.

Business Intelligence solves this problem by doing three things. 

Firstly, it pools your customer data in a single location so that you don’t have to check multiple platforms to access information. 

Secondly, it converts data into visuals: graphs, funnels, and charts to help you see the rises, falls, and trends in your data. A visual representation of data makes analysis less gruesome and more time-efficient.

Lastly, BI tools show you the connections in different data types on dashboards so that you don’t have to spend hours figuring out the relationship between metrics such as retention rates and blog post engagement.

By showing you unified and digestible data, BI tools help you decipher the meaning behind each customer interaction. 

2. Provides Actionable Insights 

Another aspect of the information provided by BI is that it’s actionable. But what does actionable insight really mean? As the name suggests, actionable information should lead you to actions that improve your business strategies. 

“Isn’t all data actionable?” you may ask.

The answer, unfortunately, is: no, it’s not.

To put things in perspective, you don’t have actionable data if you can only see the total traffic to your blog posts. However, if you can see the MRR brought by each post, you can deduce the subjects that get the most attention and improve your content marketing strategy.

Screenshot from HockeyStack's demo,  which shows the dashboard that displays the MRR associated with each blog post.

This actionable data on analytics software is accurate and up-to-date. These tools display data as it comes in, so you’re updated on multiple platforms simultaneously. 

So, if you’re making decisions based on the information on a tool like HockeyStack, you can be sure it’s not only accurate but also timely. As soon as you see a negative trend in your email open rates, for instance, you can take action and start working on your email marketing strategy


In short, BI strategies and analytics software help you make quick data-driven decisions.

A list of the benefits of Business Intelligence.
Source: NIX United

3. Improves Efficiency

Thanks to the accessibility of data, these data-driven decisions can be made in any department.

This is because BI breaks down the silos that make data unavailable to most of your company. These silos are a significant barrier to collaboration and prevent you from getting a clear view of the customer journey. When you use software that unifies all data, you every department the data they need for key decision-making. 

This is vital because departments are not independent of one another. Marketing’s actions affect the number of leads acquired by sales, and the quality of leads affects the performance of customer service. Teams with access to other departments’ data can easily make sense of their own performance.

This transparency also decreases the time your teams spend requesting and getting information. Thanks to BI, your sales team doesn’t need to request a report on key marketing metrics. It can just view them on their dashboard.

You’re missing out on all these benefits of BI if you haven’t yet started using a suitable tool. But if you have decided to use SaaS BI in your business practices, you’ll need to consider a few points to see all the benefits. 

Below are some business intelligence practices you need to implement to ensure that you can reap its full benefit.

How You Can Make the Most of SaaS Business Intelligence

1. Choose the Right SaaS BI Tool 

If your chosen tool doesn’t have an intuitive UI, thorough onboarding process, documentation to help you navigate through the product, and responsive customer service, its features will be hardly accessible. 

When your SaaS BI tool isn’t user-friendly, executives and various teams within your organization won’t be able to use data to their advantage. That is why only 27% of executives say that their BI efforts provide actionable insights: the remaining 73% cannot use the tools to their fullest potential due to a lack of onboarding and training.

Another aspect to consider is the technical knowledge needed to use the product. No-code products like HockeyStack don’t have a steep learning curve, are easily integrated into your business, and can be used by everyone in your company. 

You can only see an increase in efficiency when everyone in your company has adopted your SaaS BI tool. You’ll also be getting back your money’s worth when executives, marketing, sales, and service teams make the most out of the analytics features. 

2. Customize Your Dashboards 

Once you’ve selected a user-friendly SaaS BI tool, you should start customizing it. 

Every company has its own KPIs and areas for improvement. Customizable dashboards and visuals can be used to break data down for unique use case. They also provide real-time analytics, make it easier to share performance reports, help you identify trends and opportunities, and save you time. 

Anyone in your company should benefit from these customization features. Tools like HockeyStack don’t require coding knowledge, so building onboarding or signup funnels, creating user segments, and adding new metrics to your dashboards is intuitive for everyone. 

Screenshot from HockeyStack's demo showing how funnels are customized.

3. Start Small and with Purpose

When you first start with business intelligence, it’s natural to try and answer millions of questions about your marketing and sales strategies, finances, and more. However, creating reports and dashboards for countless questions at once can get overwhelming and complicate the analytics process. 

So, when you get started, make sure that you have just a few questions you want to explore, such as:

  • Which customer segment is the most profitable?
  • How can we increase customer retention?
  • Which channels bring the most potential customers?
  • How can we increase website conversions?

All these questions require tracking multiple metrics, analyzing customer touchpoints from maps, and trial and error for improvement. So, trying to tackle too many questions simultaneously can get messy.

4. Be Flexible and Prepared to Scale

While you and your teams are looking for answers to these questions, it’s important to follow up on what worked and what didn’t. How you manage data will change as users in your business experiment with your BI tool. They may find that the dashboards are not interactive enough, or maybe they’ll want to add alerts to their reports to notify them of a change in metrics. 

One of the benefits of SaaS BI is that when your business grows, the tool can be updated quickly to meet its new needs. Most SaaS BI tools like HockeyStack will help you build any dashboard that’ll accommodate your changing analytics demands.

5. Provide Training

As your business grows, so will its BI needs. Your company will start using new platforms, it’ll put out more ads and get more traffic. Naturally, it’ll need a tool that can be updated to facilitate your company’s growth. This may look like new integrations, analytics features, dashboards, etc. 

 I’ve stated before that the tool that’s most likely going to be right for you will be easy to understand, have a good onboarding sequence and documentation. However, this doesn’t mean you should leave the learning to your teams and let them figure everything out themselves. 

To help your teams get used to data-driven business culture, you can have training sessions, recordings to explain new updates, and even Q&A sessions where people can ask BI-related questions.

Just as it is with any other tool, keep in mind that onboarding is a continuous process. If you help your company adopt BI solutions, they’ll benefit from the tool’s capabilities quicker.

Conclusion

Analytics is complex because every part of your business impacts the other. That is also why business intelligence offers a unique advantage for analytics: it provides companies with a unified and complete view of their data. 

When you completely understand your external and internal data, and use this knowledge to drive your decisions, you’ll be 23 times more likely to acquire new customers. You can also increase profits by 8 percent. So, start integrating BI into your business and implement the proper practices to make the most of it today.

FAQ

What are business intelligence best practices?

BI best practices are tips and tricks that help companies benefit from the analytics capabilities offered by business intelligence.

What things should you do when implementing business intelligence?

Choosing a suitable BI tool, providing training across your company, and using customization are some things you should do to make the most of business intelligence. 

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